Saturday, September 8, 2018

Review of ALPHA: Canine Companionship

September 7, 2018

This film was set in prehistoric times, 20,000 years ago. A tribe of hunters led by their chieftain Tau were going out on a hunting expedition. Despite doubts from his wife Rho, Tau decided his son Keda was ready to go on the hunt for the first time. While trying to corner a herd of bison, Keda was hurled off the edge of a cliff, and was presumed dead. 

However, Keda did not die. He had enough survival skills in him to set his own broken ankle and feed himself as he struggled to find his way back to his home before winter. One day, he was attacked by a pack of wolves. He injured one of the wolves, but instead of killing it, he decides to nurse it back to health to be his travelling companion. 

This movie is another one of those feature films where the official trailer practically reveals its entire plot line. Everything I wrote in the synopsis above was already clearly shown in the trailer. I did not have to watch the full film at all to get all of that.  This trailer was really a big spoiler for the most exciting scenes in the film. The only mystery left to watch the film for was the unexpected ending, but even a hint of that was also in the trailer. 

The language used by the characters of this film was a made-up "prehistoric" language. We will have to read subtitles in English to really know what was going on. However, because of the simple plot, you can somehow get the context of the conversations already just by watching the action onscreen. Interesting how many characters were named after Greek letters. Aside from the dog Alpha, Keda's parents were Tau and Rho, while certain tribesmen were named Nu, Kappa, Xi and Sigma.

The wolf-dog who played Alpha gave a very affecting performance. We were able to see how a wild animal slowly connected with a human being. She depended on Keda for healing and food when she was injured. But when Keda was in danger, Alpha did not back down from defending him (that saber-toothed tiger!). Kodi Smit-McPhee gave a brave, realistic portrayal of Keda, an obviously physically-exhausting (all that running in the snow), and emotionally-challenging (the struggle to survive) role. 

The beautiful images on the screen had an epic feel (hence its availability in 3D and IMAX), with those snow-capped mountains and breathtaking cliffs. However, the story told by director Albert Hughes (who was more known for dark crime movies prior to this) was straight-forward, very simple. Young audiences and dog-lovers alike will definitely feel an emotional connection with the heart-warming story and its old-fashioned familiarity. 7/10. 

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